Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (-3)
First, I just want to say that it’s a shame that what’s probably the best rivalry in the NFL is playing second or third fiddle in the media because of Pats/Jets and Aaron Rodgers. As for the pick, it’s simple stuff really. Baltimore is good, but they’re 0-5 against the Steelers when Big Ben plays. Pittsburgh’s defense is outstanding, and the offense has been playing straight up out of their mind lately.
Pittsburgh 27, Baltimore 17
Green Bay @ Atlanta (-3)
Green Bay has been held together by duct tape and wizard magic all season long, yet everyone wants to knight them NFC Champions already. Meanwhile, it’s hard to remember, but Matt Ryan has only ever lost two games at home in his career. No slight against Green Bay here, as they’ve been fantastic at keeping it together, but people are underestimating Matt Ryan. Rodgers will get there soon (next year, even), but this year belongs to Ryan, I think. He takes the next step with a big win.
Atlanta 20, Green Bay 16
Seattle @ Chicago (-10)
Pete Carroll has had eight days to prepare!! In all reality, though, this game scares me. Carroll is a very good game-planner, and he already has film on what the Bears did earlier this year. This is obviously a different Bears team, and I do think they’re more talented then Seattle. The Seahawks also won’t have a crowd causing a mini-earthquake to get them going. I think the line might be right on here, but they say you can’t pick the underdog unless you can actually picture them winning too. I can’t see Seattle getting to .500. So –
Chicago 24, Seattle 13
N.Y. Jets @ New England (-9)
The main event. The game everyone’s been talking about this week. Whenever New York and Boston get together, it’s a media shitstorm. Add in the inordinate amount of talking Rex and the Jets do, and you knew this was going to get crazy. The Pats, of course, pounded the Jets 45-3 on Monday Night Football the last time these guys met. But this game is sneaky to me. As much as I think the Pats are better, I really don’t think they can embarrass the Jets again. Gang Green loves their loud-mouth coach and will do anything to ensure he doesn’t get embarrassed again. If the Jets really want to make this a rivalry, they need to push the Pats harder than they ever had. And I see that happening. I think the Jets could win, but they won’t. But they do hold the Pats offense at bay and cover.
New England 27, N.Y. Jets 24
So, for the record, that’s Pittsburgh (-3), Atlanta (-3), Chicago (-10), and N.Y. Jets (+9). And yes, I’m 0-4 this postseason. So I have that going for me.